HC Deb 11 March 1864 vol 173 cc1831-67

said, he rose to call attention to some of the causes of the decline of the population in Ireland, and especially to the difference between the laws for the relief of the poor in Ireland, and the laws for the relief of the poor in England and Scotland, and to move a Resolution on the subject. He would remind the House that when Earl Russell brought forward his Irish Poor Law Bill in 1837 he estimated the population of Ireland at over 8,000,000. At that moment it was but a little over 5,000,000, showing a positive decline of 3,000,000, more than the whole population of Denmark and the Duchies of Schleswig and Holstein. In 1837 the population of Ireland was, or had been, increasing at a ratio which, if continued to the present time, would have brought the number up to little short of 12,000,000, so that the actual loss of people had been something like 6,000.000 or 7,000,000—a greater loss numerically than if the Queen were to lose the whole of her colonial empire. The subject, therefore, was one which ought to arrest the attention not only of all Irishmen, but of all persons interested in the welfare of the Empire. The first question one naturally asked was what explanations, if any, had been offered by the Government of the extraordinary phenomenon. The Government had offered explanations, and if he had believed the statements made by the Earl of Carlisle, by the Secretary for Ireland, by the Attorney General, and by the Prime Minister, he should not have ventured to trouble the House with any remarks; because, according to those responsible authorities, the decline of the population of Ireland was to be attributed to what they called natural causes, and causes over which the House had no control. But he called attention to the decline of the population, because he believed it was produced by causes with which the House could deal—namely, the misgovernment of the country and the operation of bad laws. The Irish Attorney General had closed an eloquent speech with these words:—"The state of Ireland is this—we have there just laws, justly administered to a contented people." That was not quite accurate. It would have been more correct to admit—whether the laws were just or unjust — that, at all events, they were not administered to a contented people. He was convinced that the Government possessed information which must show them that there prevailed in Ireland a general and profound feeling of discontent. He also had information derived from sources perhaps as good as those on which the Government relied, and from all these he learnt that the discontent in Ireland had not, in the memory of any man living there, been so great as it was at that moment. Nor when it was seen how millions had gone anrl were going from the shores of the country, and how, moreover, the Members of the Irish Government expressed themselves publicly on that great national calamity, it was hardly surprising that such a general feeling should exist. The Lord Lieutenant of Ireland, at the Lord Mayor's banquet in Dublin, took occasion to refer to that subject, and, having quoted the well-known lines— III fares the land, to hastening ills a prey, Where wealth accumulates and men decay," — his Lordship went on to say that that sentiment was totally wrong, that he approved what the poet condemned, that the decay of the population was a good symptom, and that the future of Ireland was that human beings must leave the soil, and the country become the fruitful mother of flocks and herds. That was received with murmurs of discontent, whereupon his Excellency continued, "I hear cries of 'No, no!' but I beg to state distinctly that that is my opinion; the decay of the population is not to be regretted," and the Lord Lieutenant did what was a bold thing—he reiterated his opinion in spite of the disapprobation evinced by the Irish gentlemen assembled at that banquet. Perbaps his Excellency felt that the decline of the population, if it were an evil, was an evil for which the Government was responsible, and therefore denied that it was an evil at all. Now, he ventured to think that no hon. Member would rise in that House and defend the Lord Lieutenant for making that statement; and, although the Attorney General called the decline of the population a phase of transition, one of those natural things which they could take no cognizance of or check, yet when they considered the difference which existed between Ireland and England in all the laws, without exception, bearing on the poor, lie believed they would think that that decline proceeded from causes with which the House could deal. He thought it resulted from misgovernment; that it was attributable to various causes affecting the material prosperity and the political condition of the people. Every Irish Government, except the present, had come down to the House and declared that Parliament must do something about the land question. Lord Stanley many years ago brought in a Bill on that subject, which did not pass; and other measures of the same kind were subsequently introduced one after another, and all failed to pass. The Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster (Mr. Cardwell), indeed, brought in a Bill, which did pass; but this fatality had attended it—that not one solitary individual in Ireland had availed himself of its provisions; it was a dead letter. Committees, Commissions, and Governments had said that something should be done on the land question, but nothing had been done. Then take the subject of popular instruction. In England a system of popular education was in force, founded on distinct principles. They declared that the education supported by the Government must be given in those schools only which were connected with some religious denomination, or where the Bible was read. But in Ireland no school could get a grant which was connected with a religious denomination, or in which the Bible was daily read. He might mention a striking illustration of that. The late Mr. O'Connell subscribed to a Protestant school in his parish in Dublin, but the National Board deprived that school of the grant, because they detected that the Bible was read there. Of course, Mr. O'Connell continued his subscription after that decision. The people of Ireland were told by those whom they believed—by their bishops and clergy, that a different and a better system of education than the Irish one existed in England. They petitioned with one voice to have the English system extended to their country, but their petition was refused. The natural result was to give them a distrust of Parliament. Again, there were the Irish marriage laws, differing from the English, and rendering a priest liable to the penalties of felony in Ireland for celebrating a mixed marriage, which he might celebrate in England without being liable to any such penalty. That was a relic of the old penal laws. He proposed, however, to confine his remarks principally to the Poor Laws, which affected the poor most of all. They had the Irish people sending up petitions in shoals for the beneficial provisions of the English Poor Law. Yet their prayer was refused. He would endeavour to prove—first, that a substantial difference of law existed in the two countries; secondly, that to that difference of the law the decline of the population of Ireland was to be partly attributed; and thirdly, that if the English Poor Law were given to Ireland a large number of the poor of that country would obtain relief, and the rates at the same time be reduced. The Poor Law Amendment Act of 1834 for England and Wales empowered the Board by such rules or orders as it thought fit to declare under what conditions, to what extent, and for what period, outdoor relief in money, food, or clothing, might be given to able-bodied persons or their families in any particular parish or union. Before contrasting that with the regulations existing in Ireland, let him point out the circumstances under which the Irish Poor Law passed. It was introduced in 1837 by Lord John Russell. The Government of that day sent a Royal Commission to Ireland to inquire into the state of the poor, and report to them the provisions of the proposed Poor Law. A leading member of that Commission was Dr. Whately, the late Archbishop of Dublin. The inquiry extended over a period of three years, and the Commissioners presented a most able Report. That Report recommended outdoor relief, but Lord John Russell having his own opinion on the matter sent Sir George Nichols to Ireland, who took nine months to inquire into what had occupied the Commission three years. He reported to the Government, and they set aside the Report of the Commissioners. Lord John Russell said he was sorry to differ from the Commissioners in their principal recommendation, and that no outdoor relief should be administered in Ireland. He brought in his Bill, which Mr. O'Connell and many other distinguished Members opposed, on the ground that a mere workhouse machinery would destroy the people and rob the ratepayers. The Bill passed, however, as there were many persons who were anxious to try the experiment. Mr. O'Connell's prediction had turned out correct. When the famine arose the machinery provided to meet the distress broke down. Various Poor Law Unions violated the law and gave outdoor relief, and Government were obliged to amend their own Poor Law Act. The Bill recently passed as regarded outdoor relief provided that certain classes in Ireland might in certain circumstances receive outdoor relief— If at any time by reason of want of room in the workhouse of any union adequate relief cannot be afforded therein to destitute poor persons, not being persons permanently disabled or destitute—poor persons disabled by sickness or accident, or destitute widows, or if the workhouse or houses of any union, by reason of fevers or other infectious disease, be unfit for the reception of such poor therein, then it shall be lawful for the Commissioners to give relief out of the workhouse to such destitute poor persons for any time not exceeding two calendar months. The fundamental difference between the English and Irish Poor Laws was this:— That under the English Act an adult able-bodied pauper in perfect health thrown out of employment for a short time might, if the guardians thought proper, receive outdoor relief by being put to task-work or otherwise as the Commissioners might think proper, such outdoor relief to be given half in food and half in money; the Irish system was non-elastic; no amount of distress authorized the Commissioners to give relief to outdoor paupers, except to the sick or those suffering from severe accident. There were other smaller differences. In England the guardians could grant outdoor relief for the purpose of defraying wholly or partially the expense of the burial of any member of the family of a destitute poor person. A few nights ago a Bill was introduced by the right hon. Baronet the Secretary to the Lord Lieutenant, which would enable that small modicum of outdoor relief to be given—that is, a coffin might be provided by the guardians for the interment of one of a poor family without compelling the family to go into the workhouse; but the law in Ireland was still as he had described it, and several cases had oc- curred in which applications had been made for a coffin to bury one of the family of a destitute poor person, when the answer of the Board of Guardians invariably was, "Let the whole family come into the workhouse, and then only can we give a coffin to bury the dead person." Another difference was this—that while in England outdoor relief might be given to all widows during their first six months of widowhood, and to all widows having one child dependent on them, in Ireland there was no outdoor relief for widows unless with two or more children. There was also this difference—that while the families of soldiers and sailors in the Queen's service could receive outdoor relief in England when they became destitute, in Ireland they could not do so; their only resource was the workhouse. These points of difference were small, perhaps, but they were such as it might be felt desirable to remove with the view of assimilating the Irish to the English Poor Law. The main difference was that to which he had called the attention of the House with respect to the relief out of the workhouse of the adult able-bodied poor, and the question was, what effect did the two systems produce? In Ireland a labouring man went to the Board of Guardians and said, "I have a wife and three or four children; I have been thrown out of employment for three weeks, I want some relief." The Board of Guardians would reply, "It is illegal; we cannot give relief. The Poor Law Commissioners in Ireland have not the power; but we will give you relief if you, your wife and children, come into the workhouse." And now a few words as to the place into which the guardians would invite him to come. When the inquiry took place into the Irish Poor Laws in 1861, some questions were asked as to what was called classification in Irish workhouses. A question was asked of the Chief Commissioner for administering the law in Ireland by a Member of the Committee, who, adverting to the evidence of Colonel Latouche on the want of classification among the female inmates, asked if it was true that women of the town came into hospital with disease, and after cure were placed with the other inmates. The answer was, certainly; that in the South Dublin Union, where there were many women of the town, girls of fifteen years of age mixed with the adult females, and that procuresses were in the habit of sending women into the hospitals to bring out the young girls. The last Report of the Poor Law Board in Ireland referred to what had been done on the subject of classification, and gave an abstract of the replies from the various unions on the moral classification of workhouse inmates. The answer of the guardians of the North Dublin Union was, that there was no rule of moral classification in their workhouse, except that women suffering from illness were sent to the hospital. Similar answers were sent from the Kilkee, Mohill, and other unions. Upon the same point the Poor Law Commissioners themselves said that but few of the replies were favourable to the adoption of more extensive moral classification, or to any attempt to distinguish by different treatment between one class and another on account of their characters and habits. Such was the last statement of the Poor Law Commissioners. Then came the question, what was the adult labouring man to do when, in reply to his application for relief, the guardians told him that he and his family must enter the workhouse? The man might have daughters of the ages alluded to by Colonel Latouche, and when he was told that if he entered the workhouse he would be separated from his wife and she from her children, and that his daughters would be exposed to the evil influences which were proved to exist in the workhouses of Ireland, he might very reasonably object to accept the offer made to him. In some of the workhouses of Ireland, and especially in Dublin and Cork, attempts had been made by the female inmates to set fire to the buildings, and a general mutinous feeling appeared to prevail. When these women were brought up to be sentenced after trial, one Judge remarked that the workhouses seemed to change the very nature of people, and none of the offenders before him appeared to be at all sorry for what had been done. The Recorder of Dublin (Mr. Shaw) said the cases tried before him showed the great difference that existed between persons brought up in the unions and those who supported themselves independently by their industry. Addressing the prisoners, the Recorder asked whether they preferred transportation to the workhouse, and one of them replied, "Yes, they were anxious to exchange the workhouse for the prison." The Recorder, in passing sentence, noticed the system whereby the inmates of workhouses were left in all the disgrace of idleness, and were not taught to occupy their time by any useful employ- ment. The Poor Law Commissioners themselves, in their last Report, referred to the offences committed in workhouses by inmates who were desirous of being transferred to a prison, where they would be taught some trade, by means of which they might be able afterwards to rise above their present level in life. After that statement, the Commissioners went on to say that, as the outbreaks had never been connected with charges of ill-usage or personal discontent, it was difficult for them to apply or to suggest any remedy. That Report was signed by Mr. Power, the Chief Commissioner; Sir Robert Peel, Chief Secretary; Colonel Larcom, Under Secretary; and by two other Poor Law Commissioners. Although they declared they were unable to suggest any remedy for the existing evils, he really thought there was no great difficulty in finding a remedy, and he would venture to suggest one. Let the House remember that the workhouses in Ireland into which the labouring poor were driven were places in which not only were there the corrupting influences of no system of classification, but there was also a dietary scale far lower than was to be found in any English or Scotch workhouse. In the Dublin unions 10 per cent of the inmates died annually, and among the causes of death mentioned in the tables were many hundred cases of atrophy, which he took to be a polite name for starvation. Even the Commissioners had felt it to be necessary to call the attention of the guardians of one of the Dublin unions to the lowness of their dietary, because they gave but two meals a day — stirabout for breakfast, and for dinner also stirabout. It was possible that a change had since been made, but it wag to the credit of the Commission that they had occasionally called the attention of Boards of Guardians to the insufficiency of the dietaries, although he believed they had no power to make any order upon the subject. The condition of the adult labourer in England and Scotland when out. of employment was very different, and he would call attention to some illustration of that difference. At Birkenhead, where there was a large Irish population, the Poor Law Inspector, referring to the distress existing there, said it would have been most cruel to ask those poor people to break up their homes and destroy their feelings of independence by requiring them to come into the union, and therefore outdoor relief was given there to some 500 men and women and 700 children. The Poor Law Inspectors, referring to Wolverhampton and other places in England, also spoke of the habits of self-reliance which were engendered by the system of outdoor relief. It had often been said that in Ireland outdoor relief could not be adopted, because it would ruin the ratepayers, being so expensive. Now, in the Barony parish of Glasgow, where there was a large number of Irish poor, 16,000 destitute persons were relieved at an expense of £21,700, while in the north and south Dublin unions, where there was no outdoor relief, the relief of the same number of persons cost £48,249. Thus, in Dublin, if the Scotch Poor Law were carried into effect, they would be able to relieve double the number, and reduce the rates more than 8 per cent. That was the object of his Motion—namely, to reduce the rates on the one hand, and increase the area of poor relief on the other; and both these objects could be attained if the system, which existed in Glasgow and the rest of Great Britain were adopted in Ireland. It was objected that, under that system, the Irish unions would be overwhelmed by the rush for relief. But at Birkenhead and Glasgow, where there were great numbers of Irish poor, that result did not follow. In spite of the statement that it was illegal to give outdoor relief in Ireland, some Boards of Guardians there had broken the law. Such was the case in Drogheda, where the average daily number of paupers relieved during the year amounted to 6,133 —3,900 in the workhouse and 2,200 outdoor. The cost of relief there was £6,897, while in the North Dublin Union, where 6,084 persons were relieved, and where there was not a single case of outdoor relief, the total cost was £20,997. Comparing the cost of relief, he found that in the province of Leinster the union lowest in the scale was Celbridge, where there was 21 per cent of outdoor relief. In Newry and Ballyshannon, which were very close together, the poundage was 7½d. and 11 ¼d. respectively, there being some outdoor relief administered in Newry, but none in Ballyshannon. The valuation of the unions of Enniscorthy and Wexford was identical, but in Wexford outdoor relief was given only in seventy-two cases, whilst in Enniscorthy it was given in 560 cases, and in the union where the larger proportion of outdoor relief was given the poundage was much less than where but little was given—a fact which was accounted for from the poor being less in number in the workhouse, and the relief given being necessary for a much shorter time. He found from official statements furnished by Mr. Power to the Irish Poor Relief Committee, that in the union of Coleraine by far the greater amount levied for the relief of the poor found its way into the pockets of officials, and he feared it was too generally the case in other unions. Of £2,324 collected in Coleraine for the relief of the destitute poor, £1,804 was expended in establishment charges; in Stranorlar Union the officials received double the sum expended on the poor; in Newtonlimavady £720 went to officials, and £360 to the poor; in Clifden Union £963 went to officials, and £632 to the poor; in Carrick-on Shannon £874 went to officials, and £587 to the poor; in Ballymoney there was a similar state of things; and the same also applied to the unions of Ballymena and Clonmel. That accounted for the scandalous waste of money in the Irish poor relief, which was not to be found in England or Scotland, and showed that by a judicious system double the amount of poor might be relieved in Ireland for considerably less than was now required, thereby benefiting the poor and materially lessening the burdens of the ratepayers. The question was not merely to be considered with reference to a comparison of the two systems of relief, but with regard to the proportion of destitute poor; and he was inclined to agree, as no doubt it would be urged by the Government, that in Ireland the proportionate number of poor, although it was a poor country, was not so great as it was in England and Scotland; but he inferred from it that if they were to apply the English system to Ireland they would not have the same number in proportion to relieve. He hoped they would at least try the experiment. He was aware of the argument used by some hon. Members to the effect, that if there was a system of outdoor relief in Ireland there would be a general rush for it, and the ratepayers would be done up. What took place during the famine years was referred to in support of that argument; but an experiment made at a time when the state of things was completely abnormal could not be taken as a criterion. The class for whom he was pleading had little influence in that House or elsewhere, but the poor of Ireland were the source of labour, and, being so, they were the source of the national wealth of that country, and in driving them from the country by unequal laws they not only lost the material assistance which they gave in the production of wealth, and in the defence of the country, but they also produced political effects which were well worthy of consideration. The people of Ireland were in a position such as they had not previously occupied. What was called "Parliamentary policy" had no value in their eyes. They had sent petitions to the House year after year asking for a change in the law, and it was a most dangerous thing for the Legislature to tell them that it would continue to make a distinction in the law as between Great Britain and Ireland, and that the distinction should be against the latter country. It was not only the millions who were leaving Ireland that the Government and the House ought to consider, but those who were remaining behind. They ought to consider the social conduct and the political aspect of those who were remaining in the country. Formerly, when the people assembled at fairs or "patterns" they had music and other amusements; there was fun among them; but things had changed. The people were brokenhearted. Many of the once cheerful little hamlets had diminished or entirely disappeared. To take the King's County. A few years ago there were in the hamlet of Cunaghmore thirty-five houses; there were now eight. A similar tale was to be told of several other hamlets. A population of 146,000 had been reduced to 90,000. They were told that the people were emigrating. They were going, and, to use a common phrase, with a vengeance; and at the other side of the Atlantic they did not entertain feelings of loyalty and attachment to this country. And, as to those who remained, would the difference in the laws as between the two countries make the Irish at home respect and obey those laws? Then, what were they to think when they heard the Lord Lieutenant's declaration that Ireland was best suited for pasturage; in other words, that God's image was to be driven off the soil to make room for beasts? He thought that the Earl of Carlisle did not command the confidence of any section of the Irish people when he made that statement. But the Prime Minister himself, a Session or two ago, referring to the depopulation of Ireland, used somewhat similar language. He trusted that the Government would imitate the conduct of the late Lord Eglinton, who lamented the depopulation of Ireland, and did something towards deve- loping the resources of that country. It was usual in England for the Poor Law Inspectors to offer suggestions for the improvement of the working of the law, as much in the interest of the poor as in that of the ratepayers; but in Ireland, if any of the Inspectors made a suggestion, he was reprimanded. His Motion was not one merely in the interests of the poor of Ireland, but in the interest of the stability of the Empire. It seemed a small thing to extend to Ireland the benefits of the English Poor Law; but it would be a most important change, not only in regard to the material interests of the people, but in its political results, for it would show the people of Ireland that they formed part of an United Kingdom, and could claim the benefits of equal laws and equal justice. In conclusion, he moved— That this House is of opinion that it is just and expedient to extend to Ireland the beneficial provisions of the English Poor Law.


seconded the Motion, and said he would confine himself to the main cause of the depopulation and misery of Ireland, which he thought the Member for the King's County could have dwelt upon with more effect—namely, the highly unjust and injurious land system which prevailed over the greater part of Ireland. No doubt there was a very strong case for more extensive outdoor relief, but the necessity for it should be treated as a consequence of the imperfect or bad land laws. If the landlords knew their own interest, or if that House passed a measure which in the end would be one not only valuable to owner and occupier, but of vital interest to the State, there would be but very little need of outdoor or indoor relief in Ireland — no, there would be ample employment for all the able-bodied, who would, to a great extent, maintain at home their aged and infirm kindred. There were in Ireland fourteen million acres of land, exclusive of waste, and not only was that portion of it under cultivation not made to produce what it might, but there were some millions of acres lying useless which might be made available. It was necessary to call the attention of the House to the difference of the land system that prevailed in England and Ireland. In the former, when a man took a farm, it was on the understanding that he either got it in a good state as regarded the permanent improvements, such as the homestead, main drainage, fences, dykes, gates, &c, or that the landlord put them into order, charging, according to the agreement, an increased rental, or 5 per cent on the outlay. Now, in Ireland, the tenant had to do all this. In the greater number of instances his small spare capital and the labour of himself and family were expended in making the permanent improvements, and for a long time he would, consequently, be working against a dead horse. But this was not the worst of it. He might recover himself if he were suffered to remain long enough at the same rent, or that he was protected by a long lease; but, as too often happened, when the land was made valuable by the sweat of the brow of the tenant, the unfortunate man was made to pay the penalty of his industry by having to pay an increased rent for his own improvements, or suffer eviction. A positive bonus was thus offered to tenants at will not to improve, owing to the tyranny and injustice of some landlords. Many people attributed, erroneously attributed, the greater prosperity of Ulster to Presbyterianism and flax growing, but the last census would show the Catholic element was larger, and Mr. Donnelly's Returns would prove that flax formed a very minor portion of the crops. The real cause should be looked for in the land custom which had existed in the province for over 100 years. A man was secured in fair compensation for his improvements; accordingly he increased the value of his land, the landlord received in the whole more for his ground than in the south, it was punctually paid him, and he was never shot. Fully three-fourths of the farmers of Ireland were tenants at will, and from the uncertain position in which they were placed, as a rule they tilled and manured the ground sufficiently only to meet their rent and maintain themselves. Thus labour was badly paid for, and many unemployed and consequent distress. There were many good landlords in Ireland, of which that House afforded several noble examples. On the Government benches, from the Premier to the Junior Lord of the Treasury, and the hon. Member for Liskeard. There were just as good at the other side of the House also. But it was with the exceptions he dealt. Lord Carlisle is reported to have said that Ireland was destined to become the mother of lowing herds. It was not very statesmanlike of his Excellency, even in an English point of view, to look with complacency on man giving way for the beast on the soil of Ireland. His Chief Secretary was not much wiser either when he considered that England ceased to have cause for apprehension, when those who felt dissatisfaction with the Government left their country for other shores. Towards the close of last Session, one of the hon. Members for Galway (Mr. Gregory), in alluding to the vast emigration from Ireland, said that every man who left its shores bore with him a feeling of hatred to the English Government. So much the better, said the hon. Baronet, that they should carry their disaffection elsewhere. So much the worse, however, was it for England, as they became the well trained and loyal soldiers of a State having no friendly feeling to England. In spite of the thousands of Irish who had perished in maintaining the Federal flag, the greater portion of the nearly million of soldiers who still fought for the preservation of the American Union were Irish, and so impressed was England with the hostile feeling of that army, that she was obliged to keep 25,000 soldiers in Canada, not knowing the hour when it might be invaded by those who, according to the belief of the Secretary, had carried their disaffection elsewhere. Now, let them take another purely English view of the result of the depopulation of Ireland. It was calculated that England, on an average, made a profit of £3 per head by the consumption of English manufactures by the people of Ireland. Laying aside the two millions who had perished by famine since that sad period, nearly as many had gone away, and thus six millions of gain per annum was lost to the English manufacturers. But now he came to the greatest loss of all that England sustained by the land system which she countenanced in Ireland. That country was formerly her best recruiting ground. Irish valour and the number of Irish soldiers in her armies once made England a first-class military Power, and enabled her to keep an independent tone towards Europe. What was she now? A third-rate power as regarded the army she could bring into the field. ["No, no!"] Well, he would give them figures. The whole British army of troops of the line consisted of 150,000 men. Of this they had to keep 80,000 in India to watch the Sepoys, and 25,000 in Canada to watch the Irish at the other side of the border. In the Mediterranean stations there were fully 10,000, and, at the least, 5,000 scattered through the colonies. Thus they had only 25,000 available troops. This, no doubt, might be increased to 50,000 more, but even that force could hardly be considered available, as, with the discontent and disaffection that prevailed in Ireland, they should, in the event of a European war, leave an army of occupation there, so that that country would, in such a case, be a source of weakness and alarm instead of strength. It was a strange infatuation on the part of the Government, still more on that of the landlords, that they did not remedy this state of things which endangered the safety of the State, and the property and even the lives of the landlords; for, sad to say, as they too well knew, aggression on the one side had produced violence and bloodshed on the other. Heaven forbid he should in the slightest degree palliate murder, but the distracted peasant too often found that the terrorism which the fear of assassination inspired was the only safeguard they had from injustice; and, in a degree, that House was responsible for the terrible crimes which followed from the unjust land system which he attempted to describe. In conclusion he would implore the Legislature, as it valued the peace and prosperity of the Empire, and the preservation and loyalty of a gallant and faithful people, to extend to them, as a matter of sound policy as well as justice, that protection for their industry which had so often been sought in vain. Until they did so, it would be impossible to expect the country could ever become peaceful, prosperous, or happy.

Amendment proposed, To leave out from the word "That" to the end of the Question, in order to add the words "this House is of opinion that it is just and expedient to extend to Ireland the beneficial provisions of the English Poor Law," — (Mr. Hennessy,) —instead thereof.

Question proposed, "That the words proposed to be left out stand part of the j Question."


said, the hon. and learned Gentleman introduced the Motion in a speech of considerable ability, in which he took a wide range. He could, however, agree with the hon. and learned Gentleman in very few of the conclusions which he had drawn from rather elaborate premises. The hon. and learned Gentleman began by stating that he believed that the great emigration from Ireland arose from; three causes. Firstly, from the land ques- tion not having been satisfactorily settled; secondly, from the state of the Poor Laws; and thirdly, from the state of the marriage law. Now, he (Mr. Vance) was of opinion that the land question could only be well settled by good-will and harmony between the landlord and tenant, and not by any legislative enactment of that House. As to the Poor Law, he did not think it had anything to do with emigration; and as to the marriage law, it was perfectly futile to suppose that it had any influence upon it. The emigration from Ireland had arisen in a great measure from the repeal of the Corn Laws, which necessitated the introduction of a new system of agriculture in Ireland, which turned the country into green fields. Grazing, as every one knew, required a smaller population than tillage. He believed also that the Encumbered Estates Act had a good deal to do with the emigration. Very large estates were sold under that law, and they were taken by a very different class to the ancient proprietors, who were content to let their land at a low and a moderate rent, whilst the modern proprietors got the very utmost they could obtain. The consequence was, that the tenants had not the interest in the land they previously possessed. They could not maintain their families with the same degree of comfort as they did under the old proprietors. The end was, that the people emigrated, and would continue to emigrate so long as the wages offered them in America were so much higher than those they could obtain in this country. It should also be remembered that the facilities for emigration were much greater than they were formerly. The people could proceed by steam vessels direct from Cork or Galway to America in ten days, for small sums, instead of having to pay a passage to Liverpool and proceed thence by sailing vessels to their destination. The hon. and learned Gentleman had not stated specifically in his Motion what were the beneficial provisions of the English Poor Law which he wished to introduce into Ireland, but he supposed that the Motion would scarcely be adopted by the House unless the whole system were applied to the sister country. If that were done, the landlords would be much obliged to the hon. and learned Gentleman, for they would be the persons mainly relieved, as instead of the landlords having to pay half the rates, the whole burden would fall on the occupiers. There was another provision as to the bas-tardy law that was different. At present, nothing could be done to put the law in force, unless the mother became chargeable on the rates. In this country she could affiliate a child at any time. Did the hon. and learned Gentleman wish to extend this principle? Did he think it would encourage the morality of the people of Ireland? [Mr. HENNESST: It is not a "beneficial provision."] Then there was the law of settlement. Was that to be assimilated? The hon. and learned Gentleman should have made his Motion clearer, and said what these beneficial provisions were. He had not done so, and they must take the Motion as it stood. It was admitted on the introduction of the Irish Poor Law that it was a great experiment, and on no other grounds would the landowners have allowed it to pass. He would quote the opinions of some dead and some living men on the subject. Mr. O'Connell, in 1838, said, he could not agree in the principle of any Poor Law for Ireland that would go beyond the relief of the lame, the impotent, and the blind, and those who were utterly incapable of labouring for their own sustenance. Mr. James Grattan said, in Ireland a Poor Law should be confined to indoor relief. The hon. and gallant Member for Roscommon had formerly followed in the same strain, and the Earl of Carlisle, when Lord Morpeth, distinctly stated that the only principle on which the people of Ireland would consent to a Poor Law, was on the workhouse system. The hon. and learned Gentleman had alluded to the workhouses of Dublin. He (Mr. Vance) had a pretty intimate knowledge of how the poor-houses were conducted. The guardians, whilst using the justest economy, were actuated by feelings of extreme humanity to the inmates, but they felt that any system of outdoor relief in the large unions would be abused to an almost incredible extent. In Dublin the poor rate was very heavy, notwithstanding the alleged poorness of the diet. For his part he did not think it desirable to give too good a diet; the inmates ought to have a bare support to induce them to leave as soon as they had an opportunity. The outdoor relief referred to by the hon. and learned Gentleman had been given where industrious bodies were located, who were only occasionally compelled to apply for relief, and would spurn the idea of constantly receiving it. In large unions, where it was impossible to examine into the circumstances of every individual, outdoor relief would be abused to an extent almost incredible. It might be economically administered in small rural districts, but that was because the condition of every man was known, and the rates could therefore be protected. The hon. and learned Gentleman had also alluded to the number of able-bodied women who were in the South Dublin Union, observing that their conduct in the workhouse had been very rebellious. He had not, however, stated the reason which led to that conduct, which was that a plan which had been formed for their emigration had been opposed, as it was about to be carried into effect, by a Roman Catholic clergyman, who was afraid that proselytism might he attempted among them. In dissatisfaction at being deprived of the opportunity for emigrating, their discontent originated. He might add on another point, that having gone over not only the Dublin workhouses, but also a great number of those in the country, he had arrived at the conclusion, that a considerable reduction in the official expenditure in these institutions might he made. He felt at the same time satisfied, that if the workhouse test were not retained, the consequence would be that there would be in every direction a rush on the rates, which must end in the general confiscation of property in Ireland.


said, that he was not surprised at the first part of the notice of the hon. Member for Queen's County, nor that he should view with alarm and sorrow the departure from the shores of Ireland of so large a part of the population. Unfortunately statistics proved that of late years there had been a decline in the prosperity of the country. He, for one, regretted to see that population leave the country which should be its strength, and which should contribute to the greatness of the Empire. He could not forget that Ireland had contributed so largely to the roll of great men who had adorned this country. Wellington, Burke, Grattan, and, at the present day, the venerable Premier, with those heroes of India, Montgomery and the Lawrences. Her soldiers, too, had bled on many a bloody field for Britain's honour, and helped to raise to its present pitch the glory of the Empire. He would briefly allude to the various reasons given for the relapse in Ireland's progress, and to the nonsense—he could call it nothing less— that was often talked in this country. Why, Sir, at one time, they were told of Ireland that it was not the climate nor the soil that was to blame, but the idleness and folly of man; at another time, that it was so wet as to fit the land only for grazing; that they should confine themselves to cattle and sheep, and leave growing corn to countries more fitted by nature. So of flax; they were told to increase flax to any amount, forgetting that it could only be profitably grown on land suited to it, and in a proper state of cultivation. The truth was, that vast portions of Ireland would not lie down in grass for any length of time, but required breaking up, and much of the country was unsuitable to sheep—a proper rotation of crops being as necessary there as in England. At one time he was told that the misfortunes of Ireland arose from want of manufactures, and they were blamed for their neglect of these unrivalled water-powers. At another that it was presumption to fight against nature; that Ireland was intended by Providence to be an agricultural country, and that it was folly to vie with England, so rich in capital and skill; and for a country without coal to compete with one having such large supplies of that material. These were some of the causes given for Irish distress; but he would leave to the Committee just appointed the pursuit and discovery of a remedy. But there was one tiling clear to him, and that was, that the want of more general outdoor relief did not cause the decline. He did not believe the Poor Laws had anything to do with the matter. The labouring class was perhaps, in Ireland, the only one better off than formerly. Their wages were greater, their position much improved, as shown by their greater consumption of excise-able articles. And yet this very class seemed determined to emigrate; the attraction across the Atlantic being too strong; and well clothed, and with money in their pockets, by all accounts they leave Ireland in shoals for a distant land. Could it be believed that the temptation of outdoor relief would keep them at home? It was stated by the hon. Member that no country could be manufacturing with no system of outdoor relief; that, where trade was bad, without relief the operatives would fly, and when demand revived, hands could not be got. He thought the cases of Belfast and Derry disproved this. In Belfast trade has been often slack, but he never heard that the operatives of that energetic city either deserted it, or were supported by the rates. As to the small farmers, who pay so much of the poor rate, he thought the effect of outdoor relief, and consequent increase of the rate, would, in addition to the bad seasons and smallness of their farms, have caused them to emigrate in larger numbers. He observed that emigration had been less in Ulster than elsewhere in Ireland. Why was this the case? The Poor Law was the same there—the seasons had of late been as inclement, the crops as indifferent, and the shopkeepers of the small agricultural towns could best tell the pressure amongst the small farmers. The comparative increase of pauperism had been greater in Ulster, and the rise of wages less there than in other provinces—yet emigration was nothing there to what it was in other parts of Ireland. If emigration arose from want of outdoor relief, why was it not more serious in Ulster? If, however, a change in the law was required, he thought the cost of it should not stand in the way, and he felt certain that the landlords of Ireland would not grudge th extra cost if they were once convinced that the outdoor principle of relief was for the real advantage and interest of the people. In this matter, however, the House should remember the decided results and opinion of the Select Committee on this very subject two years ago. Irish Members were referred to the superior advantage of the Scotch law; but what was the fact? Why, the Scotchmen were copying the Irish system as fast as they could. From their former system of outdoor relief they were now imitating the example of Ireland. The report of Mr. Falconer, the Scotch Inspector, to the Board of Supervision, stated (1863)— That there were now forty-eight workhouses in operation in Scotland, having accommodation for 12,369 inmates. When the workhouses which are in progress of erection are completed, the number of parishes having poorhouses will be 327, with an aggregate population of 1,886,787. In another place he says— Where a poorhouse is in operation, we always observe more contentment and self-reliance amongst the poor. Again, before the Committee of 1862, Mr. Senior (Poor Law Commissioner for Ireland) expressed a strong opinion against an extension of outdoor relief, both on the ground of the difficulty of its management, the abuses to which it might give rise, and the damage it would do to the self-reliance of the people themselves. Mr. Briscoe (General Superintendent of the Scotch Poor Law) had given a most ludicrous, though painful, account of the abuses prac- tised in Scotland, under the system of outdoor relief. He (Sir Frederick Heygate) would quote a few of them. Mr. Briscoe stated that he found a man on the rates, whose son had a farm—rent £200 a year — a widow, whose son was piper to the Queen at Balmoral and Windsor—a man, whose brother had 2,000 sheep—a woman, sister to a late Provost, with £500 a year in land—a lunatic, whose brother had £3,000 at his banker's —lastly, a man whose brother-in-law was worth £20,000. With regard to chastity, he (Mr. Briscoe) had reported as follows:— Outdoor relief has a serious effect upon female chastity, from the facility of getting relief for bastard children. Again, he stated— With respect to morality, it is one of the great causes of unchastity in young women in Scotland, and he thought the feeling was gaining ground. He concluded— That it had deteriorated, to a great extent, truth, industry, morality, self-respect, self-reliance, the natural affections and independence of character; it had changed (in the Highlands) the whole character of the people; there was no shame now in demanding relief, even amongst some of higher station. This was the system it was proposed to follow, although he did not himself believe Irish Boards of Guardians would ever allow such practices as these. But it was alleged that no outdoor relief was now given. Nothing could be farther from the truth. The last Return showed that 10,000 persons in Ireland were receiving outdoor relief, or one in six of the whole number of paupers on the rates. As the law stood, Boards of Guardians could relieve, with outdoor relief, orphans, foundlings, the aged, and widows with two or more children. Was this nothing? Again, was the Medical Charities Act to be ignored?—a medical outdoor relief of the best description. In England the parish doctor received a miserable stipend. He had to find his own medicines, his own abode or dispensary. How superior was the provision for the Irish peasant in sickness! A dispensary was fixed in every district, attended by a competent medical man, fairly paid, the medicines provided, and, in case of need, the sick person attended in his own cottage. So much for there being no outdoor relief in Ireland. But he (Sir Frederick Heygate) begged to remind the House of the vast difference in the position and habits of the English and Irish peasant. If the English labourer is out of work he has nothing to fall back on but his furniture and his credit. He has everything to buy, and the rent of his house to make up. But the Irishman, in almost every case, has his bit of land, often his cow, his small store of potatoes or meal, his rent (if he pays one in money) will wait, and he has, if at all provident, that necessary article, fuel, for the trouble of saving it. In addition to this, he has an almost inexhaustible resource in the charity and assistance of his neighbours, amongst, perhaps, the most kind-hearted people in the world. He thought it was only right that this distinction should be pointed out. The hon. Member had named the Union of Celbridge amongst others as one where outdoor relief was largely given, and yet where the rates were very low; but this was an unfair selection. Celbridge was a union where the valuation bore one of the highest proportions to the population of any in Ireland, the population there being only 19,580, while the valuation was £115,020. But what would the case be in unions where there was a large population and small valuation under a system of outdoor relief? Why, the property would be swamped. The following calculation could be relied on, and he would read it to the House. The effect of an increased rate upon a poor and rich county was shown in the contrast between Derry and Donegal—

Population 1861. Valuation. Expenditure in relief. Poundage of Expenditure on Valuation. Expenditure per Head on Population.
England & £ £ s. d. s. d.
Wales 20066224 71823203 6077922 1 6
Ireland 5798564 12567495 652202 1 2 3
Union Cos. of Londonderry 193754 377747 12731 0 8 1 3
Donegal 224851 227223 13048 1 1
If the expenditure in Ireland, with outdoor relief, were at the same rate as the average for England and Wales—namely, 6s. 0¾d. per head on the population—the result would be—
Cost of Relief. Poundage on Valuation.
Ireland £1757690 2s 9d.instead of Is 0½d
Londonderry 58732 3s 1¼ instead of 0s 8d
Donegal 68158 6s 0d. instead of 1s l¾d
In conclusion, he (Sir Frederick Heygate) was convinced that no class in Ireland would gain by the change. It would demoralize the population, as it had done in Scotland; it would lead to difficulties in the administration of the law where none now existed; it would destroy the self-reliance of the people, and inflict a most oppressive burden upon the ratepayers, many of them hardly removed above the class who would receive relief. And, while it would be productive of these evils, he did not believe that an increased power of outdoor relief would, in the least degree, develop the trade of the country, or retain a single emigrant from leaving the shores of his native country. For these reasons, he must give his decided opposition to the Motion before the House.


said, that the hon. Baronet was mistaken in supposing that the proprietors and occupiers in Scotland were endeavouring to put a stop to outdoor relief there. They were no doubt building workhouses in many parts of Scotland, because some test of destitution was wanted; and without some such test there were no means of guarding against imposture. The hon. Baronet had quoted Mr. Briscoe to prove that the same abuses which had arisen in Scotland would be repeated in Ireland; but at the time and in the instances quoted by Mr. Briscoe the Poor Law was administered in Scotland by parochial boards, and not by Union Boards of Guardians, by whom abuses were much less likely to be sanctioned. In almost all the cases, too, cited by Mr. Briscoe, there was no workhouse test of destitution. In Ireland, also, the landed proprietors were in the habit of attending the meetings of the Poor Law Guardians, which was not so much the case in Scotland. He spoke from practical experience of both countries when he said, that a greater amount of outdoor relief might be administered in Ireland without injustice or danger. A great deal had been said about Irish distress during the last four years. Previous to 1841–2 similar complaints of distress proceeded from the Highland districts of Scotland. The late Sir Robert Peel sent down Commissioners of inquiry, and upon their Report proposed a more liberal system of Poor Law relief than had up to that period been obtained in those districts. Since that time the House had been very little troubled with complaints of distress in the Highlands. It was quite true that the present Poor Law in Ireland admitted of a considerable amount of outdoor relief. In some cases the law was liberally administered, but in others quite the reverse. He did not know what power or influence the Secretary for Ireland might possess, but if, where complaints of distress were made, the right hon. Baronet could secure a more liberal administration of the law he would be doing great good, and the House would thenceforward hear no more of Irish distress than it had heard of Scotch distress since 1843. With respect to the question of land tenure, if Her Majesty's Government were able and willing to face it, they might do great good to Ireland. The Government in which the noble Lord the Member for Cockermouth (Lord Naas) was Chief Secretary, had grappled with the question, but they had been obliged to quit office, and the Bill was dropped. The Earl of Aberdeen's Government had attempted to face it, but the outbreak of the Crimean war had put an end to their endeavours. He was convinced, if a Bill such as they had introduced were passed, it would put an end to a great deal of humbug and of agrarian agitation. That might be easily judged from the abuse which, when the Bill was under discussion, was heaped upon the Government and the Irish Members who were in favour of the measure by the agrarian agitators. In fact, the agrarian agitators dropped the Bill just as Mephistopheles was said to have dropped the Bible. Burns' Belgian Agriculture showed what an excellent system of cultivation might be carried on by small farmers when they had security. It was said that emigration from Ireland was inevitable, and at the time when the people were suddenly deprived of the potato no doubt emigration was the great resource. But now it was more an exodus than an emigration; and an exodus from any part of the United Kingdom denoted a screw loose somewhere, and ought not to be allowed to continue without an attempt on the part of the Government and the Legislature to provide a remedy.


said, he regretted that he could not accept the Resolution of the hon. Member for the King's County; it was too vague to command assent. For what was the Resolution? It was— That the House is of opinion that it is just and expedient to extend to Ireland the beneficial provisions of the English Poor Law. But that was either a truism, or, if it meant that the English Poor Law in anything like its largest provisions and its whole scope was more beneficent than the Irish system, that was a proposition from which he must entirely dissent. The most striking feature in the English Poor Law was the law of settlement, which deprived a pauper of relief unless he had a settlement, and sent him to the parish in which he might have had one. But the Irish Poor Law gave the poor man relief wherever he happened to be where distress found him, and he held that in that respect the Irish system was far more beneficent. The next remarkable difference between the systems was this, that while in England the rates were paid by the occupiers, in Ireland half of the rates was paid by the owner; and he considered that a much sounder principle, because it combined all classes in a just union of interests to put a stop to excessive expenditure. There was a third point in the English system which he considered objectionable, but which he believed was now almost wholly given up, and that was giving relief in aid of wages. Many of the faults which the hon. Member for the King's County alleged against the Irish Poor Law were, in reality, faults of administration, not of the law itself, and might be remedied by the local authorities. The hon. Gentleman complained of want of classification, but that depended upon the guardians, and had been actually carried into effect by different boards in the way which the hon. Gentleman required. No doubt the South Dublin Union was remarkable for the turbulence of its inmates and the bad results of its management, though it had been defended by the hon. Member for Dublin (Mr. Vance). In that union classification was not carried out. But in the union with which he (Mr. O'Reilly) was connected, the strictest separation between females of bad character and the virtuous inmates bad been carried into effect for the last fifteen years. And the same principle of classification had been adopted in many unions. Again, the hon. Gentleman spoke of the dietary. But that was precisely one of the points of administration which were within the competence of the Boards of Guardians. In some unions, no doubt, the diet was most inadequate; but then the guardians had it in their power to grant any scale of diet they pleased, subject to the approval of the Poor Law Commissioners, and in most cases it was adequate. The rule laid down in the union of which he had personal experience was, that the diet of the adult poor should be kept low, in order that it might not come into too favourable comparison with the diet of the working classes. But the diet of growing children and young people was not only adequate but generous. The hon. Gentleman, in speaking of the bad results of the training given in workhouses, had instanced the Cork Union and the South Dublin Union; but he (Mr. O'Reilly) believed they were the only examples which could be named in which paupers had been brought before the magistrates for insubordination. It was with much pleasure that he saw the high testimony that was borne by one of the emigration agents to the character of some of the paupers sent out from the Irish workhouses. To his own knowledge the children brought up in the workhouses had turned out well, not only at home but also as emigrants. But the real point in the Motion was the extension of the system of outdoor relief in Ireland. He (Mr. O'Reilly) should be glad to see widows for the first six months, or widows with one child, and not merely widows with two children, as at present, entitled to such relief. Then, as to granting coffins for persons who had died without obliging their families to enter the workhouse, he believed the law in that respect had been read rather laxly, and in favour of the poor. But, at all events, he never knew an instance in which a poor man was in want of a coffin that a collection was not immediately made by the neighbours to provide one. The law in that respect was about to be changed. With regard to the case of the wives of soldiers, he did not lay much stress on it; but as the husbands were engaged in the public service, he thought it would be very fair for the Boards of Guardians to exercise a discretion in their favour. But coining to the largest class of all, the adult able-bodied poor, he considered that in the case of a sudden, unexpected, and peculiar pressure, such as was experienced in the West of Ireland about two years ago, from an unprecedented failure of the crops, it might be desirable that the Boards of Guardians, with the sanction of the Commissioners, should sanction outdoor relief. Such distress like that in Lancashire was an exceptional case, to which the ordinary law did not apply. But what was the opinion of the guardians, more than half of whom were elected by the ratepayers, as to giving ordinarily outdoor relief to the able-bodied poor? Why, the truth was, that they did not give it at present to the fullest extent in their power. There were only three unions in Ireland where outdoor relief was afforded to the fullest extent contemplated by law. He, therefore, did not believe that there was on the part of the ratepaying occupiers that great demand which had been represented for increased power to grant outdoor relief. The question of expense had been alluded to, and he admitted that the pauper in receipt of outdoor relief generally cost less than the indoor pauper, but the question was whether the number of applications for relief would not be greatly increased if the law upon the point were to be too much relaxed. He maintained that there was no sufficient ground for the large extension of outdoor relief which had been suggested, because it was not generally called for throughout the country. He believed that a great majority of the Boards of Guardians, in answer to questions addressed to them, had declared against any large extension of outdoor relief, but not against outdoor relief to a limited extent. They were also against any sweeping extension of the area of taxation. He sympathized with the hon. Gentleman in his regret at the diminution of the population of Ireland, but he ventured to ask whether the application of the English Poor Law to Ireland, whether any increase of relief that could be claimed under it, and whether the English Law of Settlement, which would render it an object in various districts to get rid of the poor population, would have any tendency to keep the people in the country. The hon. Member alluded to a speech delivered by the Queen's representative in Ireland. For himself, he differed as much as any one from many opinions expressed by that noble Lord. He did not believe, like the noble Lord, that it was the future destiny of Ireland to be a country for feeding flocks; but he believed that it would be a country of tillage and agriculture. He felt, however, that he should not be acting honourably if he did not set the hon. Member right on a point with respect to which he had misapprehended the Earl of Carlisle. The noble Lord did not say, on the occasion referred to, at which he (Mr. O'Reilly) was present, that the decrease of the population of Ireland was a benefit, or anything of the sort. On the contrary, the noble Lord expressed his regret at the diminution of the population; but he did not concur in the sentiment expressed in the lines— Ill fares the land, to hastening ills a prey. Where wealth accumulates and men decay; for the noble Lord questioned whether it would not be a greater evil for men to accumulate and wealth decay, because then there would be more mouths to feed and less to feed them with.


said, that he, for one, was anxious that the destitute poor of Ireland should at all times be treated with as much humanity as was consistent with the duty which the guardians owed to the ratepayers, many of whom were unable to obtain food for their families equal to that given in workhouses, and few able to obtain it equal to that given in our convict establishments. He had listened with attention to the able speech of the hon. and learned Member for the King's County, but he could not admit that that hon. and learned Member's practical knowledge of the subject was equal to his theoretical, for practical knowledge was only to be acquired by watching the cases that came before the Boards of Guardians, and the pressure put on the guardians in order to induce them to give relief. The hon. and learned Member had not that experience, for when Parliament was sitting they were all aware of his constant attendance in that House, and when the holidays came the hon. and learned Member did not attend the meetings of Boards of Guardians, but the blandishments of those fair ladies who naturally paid court to him, on account of his defence in that House of the cause of their parents and brothers, allured him to other places. As to any legislative enactment for ameliorating the system of outdoor relief, he scarcely thought it necessary, as the guardians had sufficient power in their own hands. The hon. and learned Member talked of the dietaries, but a statement of the dietaries in the Irish workhouses which was moved for last year, but was not yet presented, would show that the hon. and learned Member was wrong in his assertions as to their very inferior state. He had taken a great deal of trouble last year to collect the dietary tables of English and Irish unions, and found that, generally speaking, those in Ireland were superior to the scales of diet given in England. It was, no doubt, sad that while a soldier was abroad fighting the battles of his country, his wife and children should be obliged to enter the walk of the workhouse. But there was another side to the picture. The soldier might be abroad spending his money in drink and debauchery, while unfortunate ratepayers at home were taxed for the support of that man's family. The hon, and learned Member for the King's County, in his enumeration of the charges under the Irish Poor Law, had forgotten some items. The poundage on the annual value of land in Ireland was the same a3 in England— 1s. 0¼d.; but, taking the income of England into account, he found that the amount expended on the Poor Law here was only 5½d. on the pound of income charged with income tax, whilst in Ireland it was 7¼d. in the pound. The hon. and learned Gentleman forgot also the expense incurred under the Medical Charities Act, amounting to one-sixth of the entire outlay. The establishment charges also were extremely heavy, the actual amount expended upon the relief of the poor being but £387,965 out of a total of £600,000. A large proportion of the balance was absorbed by payments to officers employed mainly in registration duties partaking of an Imperial character, and totally unconnected with the legitimate business of the relief of the poor. He (Sir Hervey Bruce) thanked the Government for having introduced the clause in the Vestry Bill with respect to interments, as the previous state of the law was a disgrace to the country, but he thought it eminently wrong that the charges for poor relief in Ireland should be encumbered with items for the registration of births and deaths, and other matters. On that subject he had placed an Amendment on the paper which he would be unable to move at that time, as lie could only move it if the lion. Member carried his Amendment, which he felt sure he could not do; but he would introduce it on some future occasion as a substantive Motion. The hon. Gentleman would hardly say that the weekly average cost of 2s. for maintaining paupers indoors, the rate in that part of the country with which he wa3 best acquainted, was excessive; and the highest weekly average in Ireland was only 2s.d. It was difficult to obtain as clear an idea of average cost from the Returns furnished in England, but the expense, taking both indoor and outdoor relief, appeared to be 62s. a year. He thought the hon. and learned Gentleman could scarcely ask the House to go to a division upon so very vague a Motion as he had put before it.


said, he wished to cor- rect a misapprehension under which the hon. and learned Member appeared to labour. According to the law of Scotland there was no legal title to relief on the part of able-bodied men, either in the workhouse or out of it, and he thought the system calculated to foster a noble spirit of independence. With regard to the cases of abuse cited from the evidence of Mr. Briscoe, it should be remembered that although individuals in reduced circumstances might have wealthy relations, they were not always under a legal liability to pay for their support. In any case, the pauper applicants must first be relieved from the rates before steps could be taken to make their relatives responsible. Moreover, it was not the object of a workhouse to shame the friends of poor people into giving them moneyed support. The object was to test the circumstances of the paupers themselves.


said, he thought that every one would admit that his hon. and learned Colleague had made a most able speech in introducing this question to the notice of the House. He thought, with reference to the latter part of the Resolution, that the hon. Member would have done better had he introduced a short Bill to remedy the evils pointed out, instead of proposing an abstract Resolution, the nature of which could not well be understood. The question of outdoor relief was as much an occupier's question as a landlord's question. If the hon. and learned Member should divide on the question, he should, after his able statement, be unwilling to vote against him; but he certainly should not feel justified in voting for an abstract Resolution which would throw upon the occupiers of land in Ireland the cost, not only of a system of outdoor relief, but also of a law of settlement. He trusted, however, that his hon. and learned Colleague would content himself with the statement he had made and not divide the House.


said, he had listened with much pleasure to the able and temperate speech of the hon. and learned Member for King's County, and he wished to bring to his notice two points of some importance upon which he had not touched. The hon. and learned Member had discussed almost all the important differences between the Poor Law of Ireland and the Poor Law of England, but he had carefully avoided those parts of the Poor Law which no one in his senses would propose to con- tinue even in England if they were beginning to legislate on the subject, or would attempt to extend to Ireland. He alluded to the law of settlement as it existed in this country, and the other points referred to by the hon. Member for Longford. Divesting the speech of the hon. and learned Member for the King's County of much that was eloquent and interesting, it came to this—that he lamented, as every one must lament, the emigration which was now going on from Ireland, and proposed to remedy it by the extension of the system of outdoor relief. For his own part, he believed that the Legislature could do nothing to stop that emigration. Any measures which they might adopt for the purpose would be entirely inoperative. As long as there was so great a difference between the rate of wages in America and in Ireland, it was idle to attempt to stop the tide which was now flowing. The strong tie which formerly bound the Irish peasant to the soil was lost, for not only had he seen hundreds of thousands of his countrymen departing on their journey across the Atlantic, but he was constantly receiving, or was daily in the company of others who received, the most glowing accounts of the prosperity which awaited them at the end of the voyage. Under such circumstances, it was but a poor estimate of the people of Ireland to suppose that a mere extension of outdoor relief j would prevent men and women, who were ready to work for their livelihood, from emigrating. But not only would such a measure be inoperative to prevent emigration, it would increase and encourage it in every possible way. What retained nineteen out of twenty of the peasants in the south and west of Ireland in the country was their attachment to their wives and children; but if it were made certain that the wife and children of any man who went to America would be allowed to remain in their cabin, and would receive unlimited outdoor relief, the greatest possible inducement would be held out to that class of persons to emigrate. The ratepayers would also be affected. When the hon. and learned Member talked of assimilating the Poor Law of Ireland to that of England, he forgot the difference in the station of those who paid the rates and those who administered the law. In the districts in which emigration was principally going on the greatest part of the rates was paid by a very poor class, and outdoor relief would increase the amount of the rates. Nothing could be more calculated than such an increase of the rates to drive the smaller ratepayers out of the country. The hon. Member for Longford, in his able and excellent speech, had put the case very fairly before the House. The hon. Member had put the case of a district so distressed as to render extensive outdoor relief necessary. But even in such a case it would be necessary to exercise the greatest wisdom and discretion, lest in endeavouring to remedy one state of things they produced a worse state. In the southern and western parts of Ireland the ratepayers were often more fit to receive relief than to pay a rate. Outdoor relief in such a district would drive the people away. There were instances of that in the famine year. Sir Charles Trevelyan said that all they had to do was to lay rate upon rate until the necessary funds were raised; but after a certain time it was found that each rate created more paupers than it relieved. The subject alluded to by the hon. and learned Member for King's County, and by the hon. Member for Longford, had been carefully considered by the Committee on the Poor Law three years ago. The hon. Gentleman had complained of the want of classification in the workhouses. A modified system of classification had been recommended, but they had rightly approached the subject with that extreme caution with which every one who administered the law should approach it. They ought to recollect what classification meant in the case of women; he could not allude to it more particularly, but would ask them to consider what the consequences would be of putting women in the wrong class. A system of classification might place in the hands of a relieving officer or a guardian who had improper motives a fearful power. He believed that the guardians of the poor were most anxious to act rightly, and while he admitted that careful classification was necessary, he hoped that there would be no expression of opinion from that House that it ought to go further than it did at that time.


Sir, I agree very much with what has been said by my right hon. Friend (Mr. Herbert) as to the ability and research which the hon. and learned Gentleman has shown in submitting this question to the House; but I think it is evident, from the tone of this debate, that the support which he is likely to receive either from hon. Gentlemen from Ireland or from the House generally is very small indeed. I am sorry that in the observations which the hon. and learned Member made he thought it necessary to review generally the conduct of the workhouse system, his remarks upon which were well answered by the hon. and gallant Gentleman the Member for Longford. In only two instances have there been disturbances of the nature of those to which the hon. and learned Member has referred as being general throughout Ireland. The Motion of the hon. and learned Gentleman is very comprehensive, and takes in the whole social economy of the population of Ireland. In submitting it to the House the hon. and learned Member has alluded to certain causes which he says have led to the recent emigration, and he has urged the assimilation of the Irish Poor Law to that of England. He has also touched upon the state of feeling in Ireland as one of general dissatisfaction. I shall presently deal with that point, but in the meantime I should like to treat of other matters to which reference has been made. The hon. Member for Coleraine (Sir Hervey Bruce), cannot, of course, move his Amendment to the Resolution of the hon. and learned Member for the King's County, but I may be permitted to remark that he appears to have entirely misunderstood the question at issue. In England a very large sum is levied yearly which is not directly devoted to the relief of the poor, and when the hon. Member complained of the expenses of the registration of births, deaths, and marriages being placed on the poor rate in Ireland, he surely must have been aware that exactly the same thing is done both in England and Scotland. During the ten years ending 1859–60, the enormous sum of £77,906,000 was raised in England under the head of poor rate, and of that sum no less than upwards of £18,000,000 was disbursed for purposes wholly beside the relief of the poor. With regard to the Motion before the House, I quite agree with the hon. and learned Member for the King's County that the system of outdoor relief in England and Scotland is vastly different from that which exists in Ireland. In 1860 no fewer than 19–20ths of the cases of relief in Scotland occurred out of the workhouse; in England, in the same year, 6–7ths of the cases occurred out of the workhouse; whereas in Ireland only one in thirty was an outdoor case. Since that period the system in Scotland has undergone a great alteration. AB many as seventy or eighty work- houses have been built in that country since 1860, in consequence, I believe, of a general conviction among the Scotch people of the evils arising from a too extended system of outdoor relief; in fact, the rapid increase in the pauperism in Scotland is clearly due to the insufficient workhouse test in that country. In 1860 there were only about 3,000 persons in the receipt of outdoor relief in Ireland; whereas it appears from a Report of the Poor Law Commissioners which I hold in my hand, that last month there were more than 10,000 persons in the receipt of outdoor relief. In fact, on the 27th February, 1864, there were 10,465 persons in the receipt of outdoor relief in the four provinces of Ireland. The hon. and learned Member for the King's County has argued as if there were no system of outdoor relief in Ireland at all, and as if every pauper were obliged to go into the workhouse as a condition of getting relief. I think the fact I have stated on the authority of the Poor Law Commissioners, will show that the conclusion at which the hon. and learned Member has arrived is very different from the fact. But let us suppose that the Resolution before us has been carried. Has the hon. and learned Member considered what the effect would be in his own county? There is no county in Ireland where there is less outdoor relief than in King's County. In three unions there —Parsonstovvn, Edenderry, and Tullamore, —outdoor relief is at the minimum. The hon. and learned Member shakes his head, but from the official statement it appears that in one of the unions—Parsonstown— the system of outdoor relief is entirely unknown. If, therefore, the hon. and learned Member succeeded in carrying his Motion, the ratepayers of King's County would be subjected to an enormous additional amount of taxation; for if the entire proposition could by any possibility be carried out, King's County would find itself in the predicament of having its moderate but sufficient poundage of 11¼d. (very nearly the average poundage of Ireland) converted into an average poundage on the county of 3s. 1¾d., and its annual relief expenditure of £13,148 to £43,918, a result, one may suppose, not wholly satisfactory to the constituents of the hon. Member. I admit that the question before us, one involving an expenditure of £7,000,000 yearly in public charity for the relief of over a million of paupers in the richest and most favoured lands, deserves the attention of the House; but I do think that the proposal of the hon. and learned Member to introduce into Ireland the system of outdoor relief as it exists in England and Scotland would meet neither the wishes nor the requirements of the Irish people. The hon. and learned Member must admit that the sum drawn from the country, in the shape of poor rate, should be kept within certain bounds, and that in an agricultural country like Ireland, we must be careful not to elevate the condition of the persons relieved above that of the honest and independent labourer. That would be a grave social error. At the close of his remarks, the hon. and learned Member remarked that he stood forward as the champion of the destitute poor in Ireland. I stand here rather as the advocate of the honest and independent labourer, who has to gain his livelihood by the work of his hands, by the strength and health of his body, and by the sweat of his brow. The fact is, that one great principle should govern the operation of the Poor Laws—namely, that of keeping the stream of public charity within safe bounds; and, in the administration of relief, the public is warranted in imposing conditions on the individual relieved; and every halfpenny that goes to the relief of outdoor paupers, over and above what is absolutely necessary, tends to render the condition of the pauper more eligible than that of the independent labourer, and is a premium to vice and indolence; and I firmly believe that, unless the utmost caution were used, a great calamity would ensue from the introduction into Ireland of the system which the hon. and learned Member had advocated to-night. In England we have a system which has been in operation for more than 200 years; since 1845 the Scotch system has boon assimilated, more or less, to that of England—that is, an organized plan of relief comparable with the English system; while in Ireland, the system which exists was first introduced in 1838, and was subsequently amended in 1847, as well as in several subsequent Acts up to the Act of 1862. The Irish system was commenced with the sanction of the late lamented Sir Cornewall Lewis; it was considered peculiarly applicable to Ireland, and both the measures of 1838 and of 1847 were brought into Parliament by the present Earl Russell. When we find that the minds of such men as Earl Russell and Sir Cornewall Lewis were specially directed to the formation of the Irish Poor Law, I think we are entitled to conclude that the system which they thought good for Ireland is not one that ought to be altered upon light grounds. A great deal has been said to-night with respect to the system of outdoor relief in Scotland, but any person who reads the evidence taken before a Committee which sat, I think, in 1861, will see, in the case of Scotland, how much of prostration and destitution among the labourers may flow from an unlimited amount of outdoor relief. When the Bill of 1847 was passing through Parliament, the Earl of Derby described the effect upon the people of encouraging pauperism, in terms which I would commend to the attention of the hon. and learned Member for the King's County. Lord Stanley, in the House of Lords in 1847, in his speech upon the Poor Relief (Ireland) Bill, said, "The more you encourage pauperism (that is, by an indiscriminate system of outdoor relief), the more you discourage the occupiers of land from giving employment to the labourer for the purpose of keeping him off the poor rate." I believe that the result of the present proposal would be a vast increase of pauperism in Ireland, and as the hon. and learned Member has referred to the Recorder of Dublin—a very distinguished man, one to whom I know the highest offices of the State were offered in 1835—I may mention that Mr. Recorder Shaw looks with the utmost apprehension upon the proposal to introduce into Ireland a system founded upon the pamphlet of Professor Ingram, which, I may add, forms the groundwork of the Motion of the hon. and learned Member. If those who had considered the question conceived that such a system, were it introduced into Ireland, would lead to inevitable abuse, the hon. and learned Member should, I think, have paused before recommending it to the adoption of the House. The testimony of Mr. Briscoe has already been referred to as to the effect of the unlimited system of outdoor relief in Scotland; but the matter is so important that I would again invite attention to it. Mr. Briscoe was officially conuected with the Scottish Board as their general superintendent, and had an opportunity of seeing the operation of outdoor relief in Scotland, and the abuses that resulted from it, from the fact that, in those days, there was in that country no workhouse test. In 1861 he was asked this question by the Committee— Has not the effect of this outdoor relief been very demoralizing, and has it not broken down the spirit of independence? His answer is this, and it is very remarkable— There is not the least doubt of it. It has deteriorated to a considerable extent truth, industry, morality, self-respect, self-reliance, natural affection, and independence of character; and it appears as if the whole of the humbler classes had completely changed their character. There is no shame now in demanding relief, even among some of higher station.


That applies only to the Highlands.


Yes; but Mr. Briscoe remarks, that the state of things there generally is deplorable, and everybody laments it. Therefore it is that we should hesitate to adopt a system which the evidence of practical and very experienced men warned them would be productive of very mischievous results. The hon. and learned Gentleman adverted to the differences between the Poor Laws of England and Ireland. No doubt there is a great difference between them—for instance, as regards relief to women whose husbands are in foreign lands. The English local authorities have also powers for giving outdoor relief to the aged and infirm, which do not exist at all in Ireland; and although unquestionably the Irish Act of 1847 was a very great improvement upon the previous measure of 1838, yet there is not in Ireland a right in the individual to receive outdoor relief. And here let me give, for the information of the House, a comparative state of the English and Irish Poor Law as regards indoor and outdoor relief.

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